Archive for October, 2010

My favorite time of year is here again…..Halloween!

It’s a tradition here at Heavy Metal Addiction to have a Halloween Top 10 and this year is no exception. This all started with the 2007 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10, then I skipped 2008 but the overwhelming emails came to do a new one so last year I did the 2009 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10. I have been through my collection again and I tried not to repeat the same songs again except for a couple that will always be in the Top 10. I always search out a new pumpkin picture to post at the top and, since we lost Ronnie James Dio to stomach cancer earier in the year, I thought this pumpkin I found on Facebook was a fitting tribute.

So here it is, in no particular order (except the #1 spot), the 2010 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10…..

  1. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’
  2. Alice Cooper – ‘I Love The Dead’
  3. King Diamond – ‘Trick or Treat’
  4. Type O Negative – ‘Black No. 1′
  5. Iron Maiden – ‘The Number Of The Beast’
  6. Judas Priest – ‘A Touch Of Evil’
  7. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Diary Of A Madman’
  8. Dio – ‘Master Of The Moon’
  9. Alice Cooper – ‘Go To Hell’
  10. Black Sabbath – ‘After All (The Dead)’

Bonus Track: Moonspell – ‘At Tragic Heights’

It’s been a while since I posted my latest purchases and I have about two months worth right now! I will try and catch up as quick as I can, my purchases always slow down as the year ends so I should have October’s wrap up in early November. So here it is…..September 2010′s update…..

Online

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010) – $24: Buying the new Accept album is a complete no-brainer but I couldn’t find a pre-order price I liked at the usual online stores so I went straight to the Nuclear Blast USA webstore. $22 is a high price for a new CD but that pre-order also got me a new camoulage Accept Blood Of The Nations t-shirt (in XXL), even the shipping was cheap! I placed my order and within a week I was wearing my Udo-styled shirt and rocking out to the new Accept CD…..before the U.S. release date! The other reason why I pre-ordered straight from the label is because I had read online that the initial U.S. pressing would be a special digipak including a bonus track.

Ebay

MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going For Gold (1985/2010 reissue)- $30: I have had both of these MainEEaxe albums on my radar since I remembered the band when I read their bio in my NWOBHM Encyclopedia. I actually posted a WANTED column for these two albums back in July 2008 and both the original German and Japanese CD pressings still top out at close to $100 on Ebay if you ever come across them. The cheaper idea has always been vinyl but even a good vinyl copy has been running upwards of $15 to $20 lately. I got a tip from former MainEEaxe drummer Nigel Harrison through an email (after he read the WANTED column) that Lemon Records (a division of Cherry Red Records) in the U.K. was re-releasing both albums on CD and including bonus tracks from the various E.P.s and singles the band released. Taking Nigel’s tip, I found a seller on Ebay that had both in stock for pre-order for $15 each and free shipping…..can’t beat that deal!

Newbury Comics

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (3-CD 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $20: I’m a sucker for these Anniversary Editions of classic Metal records but I’m very picky on which ones I buy. There has to be value, especially if I already own the original release. I look for bonus tracks, unreleased tracks, DVDs and any other extra that will make me pick up another copy of an album I already own. In the case of COWBOYS FROM HELL, I was replacing a cassette. I’ve been slow to replace the last few cassettes I have left but I decided to pony up the extra money for this set: the original album, a live disc and a 3rd CD of demos with deluxe packaging. Pantera is one of those bands that has a couple of holes to fill in the collection so my renewed interest in the band is sparking the hunt! Regular price was $28 so buying it the day it came out saved $8.

Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power (1992) – $12 used: I know what you all are thinking, “You paid $12 for a used CD?”. Newbury Comics was having a used CD sale for one day and it was “Buy 1 Get 1 Free”…..I was looking at Pantera discs and knew that I had this album on cassette so I figured I would spend the extra money on this disc and get a free one making the cost for both $6 each. Logical thinking in my book. I haven’t listened to this album in a long time but it’s still a classic…..even the cover is a classic! And to think that a fan actually subjected himself to that harsh a punch to be on the album cover (or so the story goes). I was pretty psyched to find this used CD because the store had at least six regular priced copies at $17 each, I saved $5 despite the high used price.

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (1990) – $0: I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t you just buy the 3 CD deluxe edition on the same trip?”. Yes I did and I snagged the original pressing CD too! I was looking through all the used CDs and I just couldn’t find one that I really wanted. There were a few that I didn’t have but holes in the Pantera collection were bothering me. In my collection, the CDs are organized alphabetically by artist and chronologically within the artist so, technically, the deluxe edition would be a 2010 release. That would leave a hole even though it’s the same record so I figured that the CD was free and I wouldn’t be taking a big loss on the money. Here’s the kicker: the CD wasn’t used, it was brand new. Somehow a sealed copy was priced for $8 used while the other new sealed copies were priced at $17, I saw the bargain and snatched it. Saved $17.

Heart – Red Velvet Car (2010) – $9: Now I could have gone to Best Buy and bought this album for $8 but I like to support my local independent record stores so i gave the extra buck to Newbury Comics. I’m a big fan of ’70s Rock and Classic Rock, that’s the stuff that was on FM radio when I was a kid, so I have more than a few Heart albums in my collection. I didn’t really know Heart was releasing a new album, I knew they were working on material but the news of this album’s release date passed me by. There’s been a Heart revival on VH-1 Classic and on some of the Classic Rock stations in my area so I figured I’d pick this one up and keep supporting the band. Assuming that regular price for a CD is $15 then I saved $6 even with spending the extra dollar at the smaller store.

Blind Guardian – At The Edge Of Time (2010) – $13: I love Power Metal so its a no-brainer that I’m a Blind Guardian fan. I have been following the band since 1998, the musical renaissance for me when I got a computer and Internet access, I discovered a lot of Metal bands this way and I have been a fan since. Just like Heart, I knew the band was working on new material but the album’s release date got by me. I would buy a new Blind Guardian CD anyway but what made the purchase was that this was the limited edition with the bonus CD of 8 songs, different versions/demos/edits of the songs on the proper album. The other thing was that the regular single CD version was also available and it was also priced at $13…..which one to buy? Regular price for the 2 CD version was $18 so I saved $5…..I can’t see why anyone would buy the single disc version.

Kamelot – Poetry For The Poisoned (2010) – $15: Just like Blind Guardian, I discovered Kamelot in the late 90s when I got Internet access and I have been a fan ever since. The last couple of Kamelot albums haven’t really taken hold of me like I have wanted them to but that didn’t stop me from really looking forward to this album when I received the first press release. This is another album that has a two disc limited edition, this time it’s a bonus DVD, and the price compared to the regular edition was only two dollars more. What made this album even more exciting was that Kamelot was making a tour stop in Worcester, MA at The Palladium and I bought a ticket. After waiting the better part of three months with ticket in hand, Kamelot cancelled the entire U.S. tour because vocalist Roy Khan got ill. At least they didn’t cancel the CD! Regular price would have been $18 so I saved $3.

Lordi – Babez For Breakfast (2010) – $10: I got into Lordi a few years back with their 2006 record THE AROCKALYPSE but I totally missed 2008′s DEADACHE so I figured it would be good to check out the band’s latest album. First thing, the cover is just so cheesy, it reminds me of an old ’80s album cover. I have always been into visual bands like KISS, Alice Cooper, GWAR so I like the whole monster persona the band has and concept that put to the recording. When I was in the record store trolling the racks, I had totally forgotten that Lordi had released a new album and I was about to check out when one of the guys behind the counter decided to start playing the album over the store’s stereo system. Of course, I went right back to the racks and picked this up…..I also stuck around the store a little longer so I could listen to the album. Regular price was $15 so I saved $5 on sale.

Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live CD & DVD – $20: RUST IN PEACE (1990) is the best Megadeth album hands down so when I heard the band was releasing a live album that included a full performance of the album, I was definitely buying! The CD and the DVD were sold separately but on sale for $10 each, there was no way I was buying the CD and not the DVD. I always like it when bands perform a classic album in it’s entirety in concert and it’s even better when you can see the show and then get an official release for your collection. I wish I could have seen this show live but I’ll take the CD for the iPod & car and the DVD for the 52″ HDTV in the living room! The regular price on the CD was $14 and the DVD was a buck more at $15 so i saved a grand total of $9.

Tarja – What Lies Beneath (2010) – $12: I’m a loyal fan so I give artists/bands a second chance when I don’t care for a first or second album…..that was the case with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. I always liked Nightwish so when Tarja left the band for a solo career I figured that it would be pretty similar to the Nightwish sound. I picked up Tarja’s second solo album (her first out of Nightwish), MY WINTER STORM (2007), and I never got into it. It was a bad record, it just didn’t grab hold of me and I wanted it to because I paid a decent amount for the limited edition import from Europe. Fast forward to this year and Tarja has a new album but I wasn’t sure if I should buy it. I decided to give tarja another shot and I was able to score the limited edition of WHAT LIES BENEATH with three bonus tracks at a decent sale price. Regular price was $16 so I saved $4.

Alabama Thunder Pussy – River City Revival (1999) – $3 used: Deal of the day! I was browsing one of the delete bins at the record store the same day I picked up the Tarja CD and I couldn’t find anything worth buying, usually those bins are full of Pop and Rap. I checked every letter and then I found this CD in the “P” section…..someone filed this using Pussy as the last name! Good for me because my digging got me a $3 treasure! I know nothing about Alabama Thunder Pussy aside from the cool name and I always mean to pick up one of their albums so I can hear what they are like. Well why not pick up their second album for a cool $3? That’s a good deal to check out a band! Added bonus is that this is the now rare original pressing on Man’s Ruin Records and not the Relapse Records reissue from 2005. I estimate regular price to be $13 so I probably saved $9.

Halford – IV: Made Of Metal (2010) – $10: Buying the Metal God’s new album is a complete no-brainer! How can you NOT buy an album from one of the most prolific voices in all of Metal? I have been looking forward to this new album for a long time…..Judas Priest is my second favorite band so Rob Halford’s solo career is an imprtant off-shoot and/or continuation of Priest for me. I followed Rob from Priest to Fight to Two and on to Halford and all his albums kick ass (except for the Two record), especially his work in Halford. I was going to pre-order this album directly from Halford’s webstore but I knew ahead of time that the record store was going to have a good sale price, I’d rather go to the store and pick up the album than order it online and have to pay shipping. Regular price in-store was $15, same at the Halford website, so I saved $5 but I probably saved more if you factor in shipping costs.

Alice Cooper – Theatre Of Death: Live At Hammersmith 2009 CD/DVD (2010) – $12: Just like the Halford CD, this was a no-brainer to buy because Alice Cooper is one of my favorites and I never miss an album or tour. This was another album I was thinking of pre-ordering direct from the band’s website but I didn’t really want to pay the shipping costs and have a possible delay to to the post office, I want the instant gratification of buying it and having it in my hands! Unlike the Megadeth release above, this live album from Alice is packaged together with the DVD so it makes for a great value to get both a CD and a DVD for 12 bucks! Regular price in the store was $18 so I saved $6 but, if you compare it to Megadeth – RUST IN PEACE LIVE at $10 each for CD & DVD, I got a huge bargain!

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 (2010) – $10 used: I’ve had my eye on this album since it came out in February but I never picked it up. First, I never bought it the week it came out so I missed the sale price and, once it came off sale, regular price was $17! I like Rob Zombie but not for $17 so I passed and decided I would pick it up if I found it used. Then I saw that the album was getting a re-release with a few bonus tracks and a DVD of videos and my interest renewed. Add to that the ticket I had to the upcoming concert so i figured I’d pick it up and get to know the new music. The day I bought this used was 9/28, the same day the re-release came out. I had my eye on the new release with the bonuses but it was sale priced at $20 and I figured that was too much too spend, what if I didn’t like the album? Turns out I like it a lot but I’ll save that for an upcoming review. Saved $7.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Attack!! (2002) – $6: Deal of the day! I picked up ATTACK!! on the 9/28 shopping spree with the Halford, Alice & Zombie CDs and this was a good bargain because there were two copies of the CD: one regular priced at $15.99 and this one regular priced at $5.99. Someone’s mistake is my gain because I snatched the $5.99 CD as quick as Yngwie can shred! Right off the bat I saved $10. The problem was that I was sure I had this album in my collection already because I have this tendency to blow off new Yngwie records and then I find them cheap. I was sure I had this so I did called home to send either my wife or my daughter upstairs to check my racks…..another problem because my wife was at work and my daughter at school, it was around 11 in the morning! I think I spent about 15 mins re-browsing the shelves trying to think back to see if I had bought this already, I took the chance and I ended up being right.

Total = $206

Total (year) = $1412

Average Price (per item) = $10.46

Total CDs (year) = 123

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010, Nuclear Blast)

  1. Beat The Bastards
  2. Teutonic Terror
  3. The Abyss
  4. Blood Of The Nations
  5. Shades Of Death
  6. Locked And Loaded
  7. Time Machine*
  8. Kill The Pain
  9. Rolling Thunder
  10. Pandemic
  11. New World Comin’
  12. No Shelter
  13. Bucket Full of Hate

* (U.S. bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Herman Frank – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Stefan Schwarzmann – Drums

Producer: Andy Sneap

Country: Germany & USA

Total Time = 1:12:59

Accept
Accept official MySpace page
Accept official Facebook page

After a long wait, Accept have finally reunited! After the successful Summer 2005 tour of the European festival circuit, rumors of a complete Accept reunion made it’s way across the Internet and infiltrated all corners of the Heavy Metal world. Unfortunately there was no reunion as original Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider declined to participate due to his committment to solo band U.D.O. The seeds were planted though and guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes started writing together in 2009. Adding guitarist Herman Frank, who joined & recorded on BALLS TO THE WALL (1983) in 1982 and participated in the 2005 reunion tour, and drummer Stefan Shwarzmann (ex-Helloween, U.D.O., Running Wild and more) to the band, the search was on for a lead singer. While Hoffmann and Baltes were demoing new material, a suggestion was made to bring in former TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo to sing guide vocals on the demos. That chance meeting landed Tornillo the job as Udo’s replacement in the reunited Accept and led to the recording of this new album, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS.

Basically, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS is an album that captures the classic Accept sound. There is no compromising to be more commercial or follow current Metal trends, the music is pure, traditional Heavy Metal that sounds like the Accept of the 1980s. Was there really anything else to expect? The core of the band is intact with Hoffmann, Baltes and Frank and Schwarzmann is an excellent Metal drummer who can play various styles…..the wild card in all of this is Mark Tornillo. As the original singer for Accept, Udo has carved his name into the true Accept sound, a sound he continues forward with in U.D.O. While Accept has been on various forms of hiatus, Dirkschneider has maintained U.D.O. since 1987 and has made excellent traditional Heavy Metal that sounds like Accept. Udo’s unique vocal style and image are synonymous with Accept, and not many bands can change singers and be successful, and Accpet tried that already once in 1989 when they brought in David Reece for the EAT THE HEAT record. EAT THE HEAT was a failure by Accept standards and the band broke up so I was disappointed and skeptical when I heard that Udo had declined and Tornillo had joined the reformed Accept. I hadn’t listened to a TT Quick album in a long time so I gave METAL OF HONOR (1986) a few spins…..I just didn’t hear the Accept sound. All of my fears of how well Mark would take over the mic were dashed as soon as the band released a video for the single ‘Teutonic Terror’ back in May.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? And Mark Tornillo sounds pretty close to the power-packed Udo doesn’t he? Once I saw this video and heard ‘Teutonic Terror’, I knew that the band was going to make a solid record. The entire album is a traditional Heavy Metal feast full of churning guitar riffs, twin leads, a pounding rhythm section and the band’s trademark backgound vocals and chants that supplement Tornillo’s vocals. The songwriting is dead on classic Accept and, musically, it sounds like 25+ years haven’t gone by since the days of albums like RESTLESS & WILD, BALLS TO THE WALL and METAL HEART. The key to success rests with Tornillo and his vocals fit the band and material perfectly. He plays it straight with a gritty singing style but his shrieks and screams are the most impressive and it’s those techniques that keep him close to sounding like Udo and the classic Accept style. Obviously fans worldwide agree because BLOOD OF THE NATIONS has entered high on most of the international album charts but the impressive feat is that the album cracked the barren Metal wasteland known as the Billboard 200 at #187. To break the U.S. charts with fourteen years between studio albums and a new lead singer is a great accomplishment.

Just some quick notes on the packaging…..first, there is a bonus track for the U.S. pressing (‘Time Machine’) that appears in the middle of the album. I know that the bonus track was advertised on the pre-order directly through Nuclear Blast so I’m not sure if subsequent pressings (if any) will include ‘Time Machine’. If you want to spend the big bucks on the Japanese import, then you get another bonus track titled ‘Land Of The Free’. This is a glossy digipak with a 14 page glossy booklet full of lyrics, liner notes and pictures so it looks as good as it sounds.

Bottom Line:
Like I mentioned before, not many bands can replace a unique singer, a lot of bands have tried (including Accept) and only a few have had success. On BLOOD OF THE NATIONS, Accept not only replaced the gravel-throated Udo Dirkschneider successfully with Mark Tornillo but they also wrote an album of killer Metal songs full of power and punch. Throughout this review I used two words a lot: “classic” and “traditional”. Using those two words to describe any band or new album in 2010 immeadiately gives a stigma of being dated…..many veteran Metal bands like to stay current and evolve their sound but it doesn’t always work. The basis of the Accept sound is found in album like RESTLESS & WILD (1982) and BALLS TO THE WALL (1983) and that is what they are beloved for, any deviation from that specific formula would be a failure, especially with a new singer. Accept have successfully gone back in time and brought their brand of Heavy Metal from the ’80s and made it sound fresh, exciting and full of power. Choosing a singer that sounds like Udo and enhances the true Accept sound was the right move and Mark Tornillo holds nothing back and makes the position of Accept’s frontman his own. I pre-ordered this album from Nuclear Blast back in the summer and it has been on my daily playlist since it arrived in my mailbox. As a longtime Accept fan, I can honestly say this is one of their best records and one helluva comeback! I had this album as my Album Of The Month for September 2010 but, due to my hiatus with the site, I am posting it now. BLOOD OF THE NATIONS is one of the best records I’ve heard this year!

Favorite Songs:
‘Teutonic Terror’, ‘Blood Of The Nations’, ‘The Abyss’, ‘Shades Of Death’, ‘Pandemic’

Went up to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut again last night for another awesome concert, this time it was the Halloween Hootenanny featuring Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper with special guests, Murderdolls. I’m a huge fan of Alice Cooper, I’ve seen him live a bunch of times, so the main reason for my going was the Alice show but I’ve also seen Rob Zombie three times and he always put on a big show. Halloween time + Alice Cooper + Rob Zombie = must attend.

Murderdolls setlist

Chapel Of Blood
Slit My Wrist
Die My Bride
My Dark Place Alone
Drug Me To Hell
Nowhere
Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
Motherfucker, I Don’t Care

I have never heard any Murderdolls songs so their being the opening band really made no difference to me, the way I looked at it was I was either going to discover a new band to listen to or be bored out of my mind. The only thing I really new about the Murderdolls was that Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison are in the band and they have a new record that came out a few weeks ago. I almost bought the CD when it came out but I didn’t want to chance it. The band wasn’t that bad, obviously a good fit with their combination of Cooper and Zombie and they appealed to the younger crowd, especially when they swore. I can’t remember but maybe I got just as wild at concerts back in the day when a band member onstage would yell “Fuck!”…..the kiddies ate it up with the Murderdolls. Like I said, decent performance and they made enough of an impression that I will try and check out their two albums soon. As far as the setlist goes, I didn’t know any songs so i had to look it up online.

Alice Cooper setlist

School’s Out (partial)
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Wicked Young Man
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
Go To Hell
Cold Ethyl
Poison
From The Inside
Nurse Rozetta
Be My Lover
Only Women Bleed
I Never Cry
Black Widow Jam
Vengeance Is Mine
Dirty Diamonds
Billion Dollar Babies
Killer
I Love The Dead
Feed My Frankenstein
Under My Wheels

Encore
I’m Eighteen
School’s Out (reprise)

Much to my surprise, Alice Cooper opened for Rob Zombie! I was under the impression that Alice would headline considering the pedigree and bigger setlist compared to Rob Zombie but either they are trading off the headline slot or they are appealling to the younger crowd and having Zombie headline. Didn’t matter because I’ve seen Alice seven other times and even an opening set is just as good as a headline slot. Alice always puts on a solid show, true Shock Rock theater, so his 75-80 mins was jammed with non-stop music and theatrics. Nice to see a lot of my favorite classics like ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Go To Hell’ with a few newer songs like ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Dirty Diamonds’ and ‘Wicked Young Man’. Actually, ‘Wicked Young Man is kind of old now since it’s release 10 years ago on BRUTAL PLANET! Alice had the full compliment of props, as well as, getting killed four times by guillotine, hanging, hypodermic needle and being put in a box and having spikes pushed through. The show was really good but my only complaint is that some of the songs were shortened and some of the performance seemed rushed. I have seen Alice put on shows that go from 90 mins to 2 hours and the longer he goes the more elaborate, the more exciting the performance is. The setlist and stage show go hand in hand so great music made up for a shortened set and i always like the way Alice incorporates the new songs to fit the plot. A true legend and a great performer.

Rob Zombie setlist

Sawdust In Blood (intro)
Jesus Frankenstein
Superbeast
Scum of The Earth
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human (White Zombie cover)
Sick Bubble Gum
Demon Speeding  
(drum solo)
Mars Needs Woman
Pussy Liquor
Never Gonna Stop
Thunder Kiss ’65 (White Zombie cover)
(guitar solo with Munsters Theme and Star Spangled Banner)

Encore
Werewolf Women Of The SS
Dragula
House of 1000 Corpses

Alice Cooper is a hard man to follow but I expected Rob Zombie to put on a very visual show just like the last three times I’ve seen him live. I will admit that I’m not the biggest Rob Zombie fan in the world…..I like White Zombie and his solo stuff but I never seem to get around to buying them, even the new album, HELLBILLY DELUXE 2, I just bought last week and have given only one spin. I knew I would recognize the White Zombie and HELLBILLY DELUXE (1998) songs but I wasn’t sure about the rest of the set. As expected, very visual show with flamepots going the entire time and plenty of props and dry ice fog but what surprised me was just how good the band sounded, it was almost like hearing it straight off the record. Zombie is popular with the younger crowd and they knew all the words to every song but what surprised me most was that I knew a lot of the songs that were post-1998, especially off the new album. Every song just killed live and the newer songs like ‘Jesus Frankenstein’, ‘Sick Bubble Gum’, ‘Mars Needs Women’ and ‘Werewolf Women Of The SS’ were really great…..so much so in fact that I have been playing HELLBILLY DELUXE 2 all day today! Of course, hearing ‘More Human Than Human’ and ‘Thunder Kiss ’65′ was awesome because White Zombie is one of those bands that we all listened to in the early to mid-90s. Overall, Zombie and his band did a solid job of following the legendary Alice Cooper (I still prefer Alice!) and he made a new believer out of me…..now I am going to go out of my way to pick up some of his previous solo albums and I may catch him live again next time around.

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010, Universal Music)

  1. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier
  2. El Dorado
  3. Mother Of Mercy
  4. Coming Home
  5. The Alchemist
  6. Isle Of Avalon
  7. Starblind
  8. The Talisman
  9. The Man Who Would Be King
  10. When The Wild Wind Blows

Band Lineup:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass & Keyboards
Dave Murray – Guitars
Adrian Smith – Guitars
Janick Gers – Guitars
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Producers: Kevin Shirley & Steve Harris

Country: United Kingdom

Total Time = 1:16:35

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden MySpace page

It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since Iron Maiden’s debut album was released. Thirty years of creating some of the most impressive and creative Heavy Metal ever to be heard and thirty years touring the world several times over. When Iron Maiden debuted in 1980, they were the innovative pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and, in many cases, light years more sophisticated then their peers. Try and think of a band that has continually released top quality studio albums and played to packed arenas without compromising their sound, direction or principles. They were leaders back in the NWOBHM heyday and they are Heavy Metal’s leaders now, THE FINAL FRONTIER marks their 15th studio album and there is no sign of slowing down.

It’s also hard to believe that it’s been four years since the last Maiden record, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (2006). There is no doubt that the band is at it’s creative peak since lead singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the band in 1999, the band has released four studio albums  and toured the world extensively in support of each. This from a band that is well into their 50s now! I had to actually go back and make sure I wasn’t wrong that the last album was released in 2006, surely there was new music more recently? Iron Maiden has been able to keep the spotlight on themselves by releasing two excellent live albums and three high quality DVDs while touring  just about every year, including a co-headlining spot on Ozzfest 2005 and countless headline appearances at major festivals around the world. This is no nostalgia act as the band has made it a point to feature new songs as the bulk of their live set…..in 2000 on the tour for BRAVE NEW WORLD, they featured at least 6 brand new tracks and they played the entire A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH album on their 2007 tour! It’s not that Maiden doesn’t enjoy revisiting the past, it’s that they embrace their past with their future…..and the future is THE FINAL FRONTIER. Since the band reunited as a six piece in 2000, all the studio albums have been more a Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock affair than the straight Heavy Metal that defined their career through the ’80s and ’90s. The band has progressed and have gotten better with age…..the musicianship and songwriting are of the highest quality, as are the live performances.

The album opens with a very weird, experimental instrumental intro and song titled ‘Satellite 15…The Final Frontier’. It’s distorted bass, odd drum patterns and guitar riffs give the album a spacey feel especially when Bruce starts singing hauntingly about 2:30 minutes in and the momentum slowly builds for another 2 minutes until the band kicks into part two and the song takes flight in the most straightforward Rock direction that I can remember Iron Maiden taking. It sounds like Iron Maiden but very melodic and dark, you get the sense that this album will be a journey into the unknown just like the “space” theme the band is using for the album’s concept. The opening song moves directly into the initial single ‘El Dorado’, the song that was available for free download weeks before the album’s official release. ‘El Dorado’ is more familiar, old school Maiden with that signature Metal gallop and Dickinson’s soaring vocals on the chorus. I downloaded the song the first day and played it several times over, my first impression is that the band were revisiting the past to create something new. The last tour I saw in 2008 was a recreation of the band’s legendary World Slavery Tour from 1984 and was a “greatest hits” tour so to speak so I assumed that the band’s reperforming of the past got their creative juices flowing to return to their roots. Even though the song is decidedly retro, it easily fits into the more progressive and epic Iron Maiden sound.

‘Mother Of Mercy’ continues the uptempo gallop that has defined the distinct Iron Maiden sound while ‘Coming Home’ is a dramatic ballad styled song about piloting an airplane and the long journey home. Both songs are continued excellence, while ‘Mother Of Mercy’ remains a more traditional style Heavy Metal song, it’s ‘Coming Home’ that sees the band start to spread it’s creative wings and add various Progressive touches to the songs. Ending the first half of the album is the fast-paced charger ‘The Alchemist’, a song that brings me back to the old school glory days of Maiden’s Metal past around PIECE OF MIND (1983) and POWERSLAVE (1984). One look at the song title and you would guess that ‘The Alchemist’ might be one of those long progressive epics but it’s actually the shortest song on the record and it’s also the fastest.

The second half of the album starts off with the 9 minute plus ‘Isle Of Avalon’, this is the Iron Maiden that has evolved for the 21st century! Long time fans like myself remember the glory days of faster songs like ‘Run to The Hills’, ‘The Trooper’ and ’2 Minutes To Midnight’ but the newer fans are discovering a new Iron Maiden that is embracing longer and more epic songs. There have always been epics on Maiden albums but, since the reunion album BRAVE NEW WORLD (2000), the band keeps creating albums of high quality progressive/epic Heavy Metal. ‘Isle Of Avalon’ clocks in at 9:06 and there are so many layers to the song, same goes for ‘Starblind’ (close to 8 minutes), ‘The Talisman’ (just over 9 minutes), The Man Who Would Be King’ (8 1/2 mins) and ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’ (11 minutes). ‘Isle Of Avalon’ has a lot of Metal in it, the solos are great as usual, but it’s definitely a more Progressive sound, more atmosphereic. ‘Starblind’ follows the same way with really thick guitars and superb vocals from Bruce Dickinson but there is really a lot to listen here and everytime I hear it I find a different piece of music that I missed before especially in the middle solo section. More atmospheric touches appear with the acoustic, almost spoken word, intro that starts ‘The Talisman’. It’s a haunting 2 minute beginning until the band kicks in full force with that trademark gallop and one of the best vocals Bruce has on the album. It’s hard to believe that the song rolls just past 9 minutes because it really moves along and the vocals are catchy, I picked them up quick. Another slow/soft beginning for another epic as ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ opens with a simple electric guitar intro and moving into a soft vocal from Bruce. The song kicks in with twin harmonized guitars  and Nicko’s excellent drumming. ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ is uptempo but not as fast as ‘The Alchemist’ but it keeps a solid pace and there is a lot of sounds to absorb, this is probably one of the most complex songs on the album as far as tones, changes and pace. Definitely one of the best songs on the album. The final song of the album is the 11 minute ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’, another awesome song. Iron Maiden pulls out all the stops with their musicianship as the song builds into a mid-tempo groove and it really serves as a showcase for each member to stretch out. Almost every longer song on this album has different sounds that I have discovered when listening closely, especially with quality headphones, but ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’ is an epic of epic proportions with different solos, time changes, melodies and drum patterns.

Bottom Line:
Album of the Year! Is it safe to call it a done deal now? Do I have to wait to put my list out in December? I have been a fan of Iron Maiden’s since the early years and, going on 30 years of recording, it’s obvious that the band is at their creative best, look at the releases since the reunited. THE FINAL FRONTIER gets better with every listen because there is something new to discover everytime, there is enough straight uptempo Metal to please one section of fans and enough Progressive Metal to satisfy the fans who prefer the longer more epic direction of the last decade. There is a lot to listen to hear so you have to keep playing the album in order not to miss things, in other words, the album stays interesting and fresh with each listen. With this album you get a high quality ten songs that are a long journey (a 76 minute one!) absolutely filled with different layers and textures. This is a band of musicians that can rip your face off with fast paced Metal or take you on a complex journey of sound…..does any band do it better? I can’t think of a band that does that has the time and history that Iron Maiden does. I have had this album since about a week before it’s official release date and I have played it just about every day. I made this album the Album Of The Month for August 2010 but, due to my hiatus with the site, I am posting it now. Hands down, the best album of 2010.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album but if I had to pick four they would be: ‘Satellite 15…The Final Frontier’, ‘The Alchemist’, ‘Isle Of Avalon’ and ‘The Man Who Would Be King’